A crowdfunding effort which was launched to raise Â£3,000 for a Christmas tree for George Green after funding was pulled by Redbridge Council is on the verge of reaching its target.
The crowdfunding, which at the time of writing had raised more than Â£2,800, has been organised by local Conservatives who say the Labour-run council has behaved “like grinches”. Deputy leader of the council, Wes Streeting, told the Wanstead Guardian the decision was “purely financial” – and that he supported the crowdfunding drive.
The council is making budget cuts in a number of areas: it has said it is “facing the toughest financial pressures that have been seen for a generation”. The cuts have (as we’ve reported) included stopping the system of Area Committees, which will be replaced with a new system of less frequent “local forums” later in the year.
The Christmas tree has in the past been paid from a discretionary spending fund held by the area committee. The fund has also been used for various other purposes including speed gun tests on busy roads, CCTV and flowers on Wanstead High Street, part of the renovation of the High Stone, and the Wanstead Festival. It is not yet clear whether these kinds of things will continue to be funded.
The tree is traditionally illuminated in a Friday-evening ceremony attended by the mayor, complete with Salvation Army and carols, an event which is always popular with schoolchildren. Lights in trees on Wanstead High Street are already installed and will only need turning on. The tree itself is something of a festive landmark, though as the tweet below shows, does not always pass without comment.
— Tom Dolan (@tomskerous) November 28, 2013